7 Best Backpacking Fishing Rods Reviewed

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Best Backpacking Fishing Rods

Hey fellow angler, welcome to my review of the best backpacking fishing rods!

When looking for backpacking fishing rods, before you even consider how light or durable a rod is, you have to make sure it can fit in your backpack. That’s why portability is the first thing we look for in a backpacking fishing rod. Rods that clear this first test are then judged based on lightness and durability. After that comes secondary considerations like sensitivity and price. We spent 4 days looking through all the telescopic and multi-piece rods on the market to find the best ones for backpacks. These are the 7 that stood out above the rest.

Among these 7 backpacking fishing rods, my favourite one is the Goture Travel Fishing Rod. It’s light, tough, and has enough strength and power for an enjoyable fishing trip.

If that wasn’t what you were looking for, don’t worry. We’ve included telescopic rods, rod and reel combos, and even fishing kits.

Let’s jump right into it!

Our Top 7 Picks

  1. Goture Travel Fishing Rod (Best Overall)
  2. St Croix Mojo Trout Fly Fishing Rod (Best Fly Fishing Rod)
  3. Wild Water Tenkara Starter Package (Best Fly Fishing Kit)
  4. Sougayilang Travel Fishing Combo (Best Fishing Kit)
  5. Troutboy Fishing Travel Combo (Best Rod and Reel Combo)
  6. Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager Spinning Freshwater Travel Kit (Best Budget Rod and Reel Combo)
  7. St Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod (Best Splurge)

The 7 Best Backpacking Fishing Rods

Before we get started, note that the collapsed rod length for multi-piece rods refers to the longest piece. Also, the listed weights are for the rod only.

Now without further ado, let’s begin!


Best Overall

1. Goture Travel Fishing Rod

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 22-31.9 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 6.5-10 ft
  • Action: Ranges from Moderate to Fast
  • Weight: 4.2-7.3 ounces

First up is the Goture Travel Fishing Rod. This well-rounded rod ticks every box of a good backpacking fishing rod. It’s short, light, long-lasting, sensitive, strong, and affordable.

Measuring just 22 inches when collapsed for the 6.5 ft option, this collapsible fishing rod can easily fit into most fishing backpacks. It’s also a pretty lightweight rod at 4.2 ounces, so you won’t feel the extra weight.

Additionally, the comfortable wear-resistant EVA grip and stainless steel guides guarantee a long-lasting rod.

Then, to seal the deal, the carbon fiber blank makes this backpacking fishing pole impressively sensitive. As a matter of fact, this collapsible fishing rod is so sensitive that it offers fast action options. Carbon fiber is the most sensitive, but also least sturdy material for rod blanks. Don’t let the carbon fiber blank fool you though, this rod is far from weak. As a glance at its features would tell you, this collapsible rod even has a medium heavy power option.

The best part is that this quality rod will only cost you roughly 60 bucks

Awesome customer service is also included in the 60 bucks. For instance, a fellow angler of mine had his rod’s middle piece snap while casting. Unfortunately, it was after his return period. He reached out to Goture and they immediately responded offering a free replacement rod at no cost. The snapped rod was defective, and the replacement rod performed fabulously.

The only flaw we could find with this lightweight fishing rod was its balance. It’s light, but it’s not really the most balanced.

That said, anything under $100 will almost certainly not be well-balanced. This reasonable flaw aside, this rod is sure to satisfy most anglers. If you’re looking for a backpacking fishing rod that delivers on all fronts, look no further.


Best Fly Fishing Rod

2. St Croix Mojo Trout Fly Fishing Rod

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 21.6-27.6 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 7-9 ft
  • Action: Moderate Fast
  • Weight: 2.4-3.9 ounces

Handcrafted in Mexico, the St Croix Mojo Trout Fly Fishing Rod is the absolute best backpacking fishing rod for fly fishing on the market. Not only is it light as a feather, but its guides are also unbelievably smooth.

Let’s start with what makes it a good backpacking fishing rod. 

Firstly, a collapsed length of 21.6 inches for the 7 ft option means most fishing backpacks can accommodate it.

Secondly, weighing a mere 2.4 ounces, it’s even lighter than the Goture Travel Fishing Rod. Plus, it’s perfectly balanced. Together, the lightness and balance make fishing with this lightweight rod a breeze.

Finally, a top-notch cork handle and sturdy aluminum oxide guides mean a long lifespan for your rod. Cork is known to last upwards of 50 years, and aluminum oxide is corrosion-resistant.

Now let’s move on to what makes this collapsible fishing rod so well-suited for fishing flies.

Number one, its aluminum oxide guides are extremely smooth. When I cast with this rod for the first time, the line came off it like a rocket. With fly lures, you want as little friction as possible with your rod’s guides because fly lures are really light. No other backpacking fishing pole does this better than the St Croix Mojo Trout Fly Fishing Rod.

Number two, fly fishing rods usually need to be slow action for better casting. However, with this rod’s phenomenal guides, you can get away with more sensitivity. As such, this rod has moderate fast action. This enables you to feel everything that’s going on underwater better than most other fly rods.

Then, to top it all off, you’re covered by a 5-year warranty so that you can buy this rod with peace of mind.

The only issue with this backpacking fishing pole is price. It’s probably going to be the most expensive fly rod you’ve ever bought, but also the best. 

In short, the St Croix Mojo Trout Fly Fishing Rod is meant only for serious fly fishermen. It’s worth every penny, but it’s going to be a lot of pennies. If you won’t settle for anything less than the best and have the money to spare, this is it.

P.S. I didn’t include the options below 7 ft because they’re 2-piece rods, which makes them too long to go into backpacks.


Best Fly Fishing Kit

3. Wild Water Tenkara Starter Package

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 19.8 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 12 ft
  • Action: Moderate Fast
  • Weight: 3 ounces

Next on the list is the Wild Water Tenkara Starter Package. From the tenkara rod and lines right down to the lures and line cutter, this fishing kit contains everything you’ll need to catch fish with flies.

Portability-wise, the 12 ft tenkara rod collapses to only 19.8 inches. And in the event that your fishing backpack is full, you can carry it with the provided hard tube case and rod sock.

Weight-wise, this fly fishing setup is even lighter than the St Croix Mojo Trout. That’s because this rod is designed for tenkara fishing. In other words, you won’t need guides, reels, or a reel seat. Although the St Croix Mojo Trout has a 2.4 ounces option, the addition of a reel would no doubt make it heavier than this fishing setup. All things considered, this fly fishing setup has exceptional lightness that surpasses even the St Croix Mojo Trout’s. You’ll feel fresh even after a long day of catching fish.

Sensitivity-wise, despite being a fly rod, this tenkara rod has moderate fast action. This is because for tenkara fishing, you can use even fast action rods. Just note that the rod action is listed as 6:4 on the product page, which can be confusing. I put moderate fast for its action as that’s my personal judgement after using it.

Now for the cons. First, it’s hard to catch big fish with tenkara fishing. Second, although this rod is built with IM8 graphite, the lightest and stiffest graphite, it’s still less durable than the previous rod. Don’t get me wrong, it is durable. But the St Croix Mojo Trout will likely last at least twice as long as this rod.

Despite these cons though, the price more than makes up for it. For more than $70 cheaper than the previous rod, this backpacking fishing kit comes with 3 different lines and 6 different flies. You also get a waterproof fly box with a capacity of 372 flies to keep your flies. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, you even get a foam line keeper, line storage clips, tippets, and a plastic protective rod topper. And of course, you’ll also get a hard tube case and rod sock. For those who don’t have their own, a line nipper is also included with this fishing kit.

All in all, the Wild Water Tenkara Starter Package may have its flaws, but given how much you’re getting for the price, this is a no-brainer deal. Fly fishermen looking for a backpacking rod on a budget will want to get this fishing kit to avoid spending extra on other fishing gear like lines and lures.

P.S. Here’s a pro tip. Wild Water has excellent customer service. So if your purchase doesn’t come with the manual, which sometimes happens, just email them and they’ll send you one. I received mine on the same day I emailed them. Not that I needed it though, but I wanted to test their customer service.


Best Fishing Kit

4. Sougayilang Travel Fishing Combo

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 16.1-16.7 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 5.9-7.9 ft
  • Action: Moderate
  • Weight: 5.3-7.9 ounces

Coming in at number 4 is a fishing kit for good old regular fishing – the Sougayilang Travel Fishing Combo. As you can see from the image, you’ll have everything you need to get started fishing.

The backpacking fishing pole that comes with this retracts to as short as 16.1 inches. While you could put the previous 3 rods into fishing backpacks, regular backpacks wouldn’t be big enough. The Sougayilang fishing rod however, is compact enough for even normal backpacks.

Durability is also one of its strong fields. The smooth ceramic anti-corrosion guides will withstand the test of time well.

For its other aspects, it’s more taxing on you as 5.9 ounces is as light as it goes. It’s also not very responsive with its moderate action. Moreover, the action isn’t stated so I had to test it out myself. But once again, the price more than justifies the downsides of this telescopic fishing rod. 

For less than $80, this fishing kit will give you everything you’ll need to catch fish. This includes a smooth and quiet high-quality spinning reel with 13+1 ball bearings. Anglers looking for a telescopic fishing rod with fishing gear included might want to give this a shot.


Best Rod and Reel Combo

5. Troutboy Fishing Travel Combo

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 18.8-20.8 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 6.8-9.8 ft
  • Action: Fast
  • Weight: 5.9-8.1 ounces

Strong and sensitive, the Troutboy Fishing Travel Combo is a great backpacking rod and reel combo.

Armed with a composite blank, the fiberglass provides this telescoping rod with enough strength for a medium heavy power rating. The blank also contains carbon fiber, making it so responsive that it’s rated fast action.

This telescoping rod is also equipped with ceramic guides and the spinning reel boasts 13+1 ball bearings.

With its portability and affordability, this backpacking combo will make a great addition to your arsenal.


Best Budget Rod and Reel Combo

6. Okuma VS-605-20 Voyager Spinning Freshwater Travel Kit

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 16 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 6 ft
  • Action: Moderate
  • Weight: 5 ounces

Another rod and reel combo, the Okuma Voyager Travel Kit is priced similarly to the Troutboy Combo. The difference is, this rod and reel combo gives you more at the same cost.

The Troutboy Combo could go up to medium heavy power and had fast action. In comparison, the Okuma Voyager Travel Kit is less powerful and responsive, with medium light power and moderate action. Also, as the name suggests, this kit is meant only for catching fish in freshwater. You should use it for freshwater fishing and freshwater fishing only, because of its lack of corrosion resistance. So why does it cost the same as the previous combo?

Well, that’s because it comes with more fishing gear. On top of a spinning rod and spinning reel, the Okuma Voyager Travel Kit also comes with a small tackle box and a carrying case.

If you liked the Troutboy Combo’s price, but want to get more value for your money, this might just be what you’re looking for.


Best Splurge

7. St Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod

  • Blank Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Rod Length: 22 inches
  • Full Rod Length: 6.5 ft
  • Action: Fast
  • Weight: 4.9 ounces

I saved the best backpacking fishing pole for last. Introducing the St Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod.

For lightness, this backpacking fishing pole is made with a premium SCII carbon fiber blank. This makes it lighter than most other backpacking rods.

For durability, there are aluminum oxide guides and a top-of-the-line cork handle.

And as for action, once again, the premium SCII carbon fiber makes it incredibly responsive. Although it’s rated fast action, from my various uses, I dare say it’s borderline extra fast.

I also like that St Croix added a nylon padded case and backs this rod with a 5-year warranty.

To sum it up, the St Croix Triumph Travel Spinning Rod is the cream of the crop of backpacking fishing rods. It isn’t cheap, but there’s no better backpacking rod out there.


Things To Consider When Buying A Backpacking Fishing Rod

Besides portability, here’s what you need to take into account when choosing backpacking fishing rods.

Rod Action

Rod action is measured by how low down your rod bends when pressure is applied to the tip.

The closer to the handle a rod bends, the slower the action, and the less sensitive a rod is.

There isn’t a specific rod action I’d recommend for backpacking rods. It all depends on your target fish. 

If you’re going after smaller fish like trout, you’ll need a fast or extra fast action rod. Vice versa, you can use moderate or slow action rods for larger fish like muskies.

Rod Length

There’s no point getting a rod that can go into your backpack but isn’t long enough to do what you want it to.

The longer your rod is, the further your casting distance will be. Most of the time, a rod from 6.5-7.5 ft will get the job done.

The only exception is surf fishing. Surf fishing rods should be at least 8 ft long, and can go up to 12 ft.

Rod Power

Rod Power is a measure of how much pressure is needed to bend your rod. The different rod powers are ultra light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and extra heavy.

As you’d expect, the larger your target fish, the heavier your power should be.

For panfish, a medium power rod will suffice, although you can also get light or ultra light if you’re going after tiny panfish. On the other hand, for monster fish like tuna, you can’t settle for anything less than extra heavy.

Rod Type

Unless your backpack is 5 ft tall, chances are, you’re looking at either a telescopic fishing pole or multi-piece rod for your backpack.

Telescoping rods tend to be lighter, have shorter collapsed lengths, and are more compact. In contrast, multi-piece rods are heavier and less compact with shorter collapsed lengths than telescopic fishing rods. However, multi-piece rods are usually also stronger and more well-balanced than telescopic fishing rods.

Tenkara rods don’t require a reel and are a type of telescopic rod specially used for fly fishing.

Also, you’ll notice that there are no casting rods, only spinning rods in this list. That’s because casting rods are usually meant for larger fish than spinning rods. Since most anglers buy backpacking rods for light fishing, I only included spinning rods.

Rod Material

The most common materials for fishing rods are carbon fiber, fiberglass, and composite.

Carbon fiber, aka graphite, is the most sensitive and lightest material, but also the least sturdy.

Fiberglass is the strongest, but also the heaviest and least sensitive material.

Composite is a blend of carbon fiber and fiberglass. This gives it the best of both worlds. You’ll have a pretty sensitive, light, and robust rod.

As mentioned earlier, most anglers buy collapsible fishing rods for light fishing. This means graphite rods and composite rods can already deliver adequate power.

As fiberglass is the heaviest, there’s no point in using it unless you need the added strength. As such, the majority of backpacking rods are made with either carbon fiber or composite.

Reel Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is measured by the number of times your spool turns per handle rotation. For example, a 4.3 gear ratio would mean that your spool will turn 4.3 rounds each time you turn the handle.

4:1 is considered a slow gear ratio while 6:1 is considered fast. Faster gear ratios allow you to retrieve more line each turn and thus reduce fatigue when reeling fish in.

The thing is, faster lures call for higher gear ratios. Likewise, slower lures call for lower gear ratios. So if you’re fishing with slower lures, you’ll have no choice but to use a slower gear ratio.

Fishing Line

For regular fishing, you’ll be using either monofilament or braided line.

Monofilament is cheaper and abrasion-resistant, but also weaker than braided line at the same diameter.

Braided line is stronger and unlike monofilament, doesn’t stretch, thus transmitting more information from underwater.

For fly fishing, you won’t need to worry about choosing at all because there’s only one type of line for fly fishing.

You may also have heard of fluorocarbon line. This is often used for the leader.

My Verdict

At the end of the day, whether you’re going on hiking or camping trips, a spontaneous fishing session is always fun. That’s why we collated these 7 backpacking rods to give you the freedom to fish anytime you feel like it.

If you still can’t decide which one you want, I recommend getting the Goture Travel Fishing Rod. Whatever you want in a backpacking rod, you name it, it’s got it.

With that, happy fishing!

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.